WOSC Current Issues

A change of ordering of entries is being made, starting in May 2011. The newest entries will now be placed at the beginning of the list, and the first entry inserted that way reports the death of Jerry Lettvin

FIFTEENTH WOSC CONGRESS

The fisteenth WOSC Congress was held in Nanjing, China, during September 15-18, 2011. Some details are given in the main WOSC(antispam) site, and a report will appear in Kybernetes. The position of Director-General of WOSC was transferred from Alex Andrew to Professor Raul Espejo.

May 2011 JERRY LETTVIN

Jerome Y. Lettvin, always known as "Jerry", died on Saturday 23rd April at his home in Hingham, Massachusetts. A well-produced entry in the Wikipedia, at: Jerry Lettvin treats his life and career. A blog to which contributions of stories or comments are invited, is being maintained by his son David at: JYL blog. A well-researched obituary from the Boston Globe is at: Globe obituary. He will be sadly missed by many.

Sad news

The daughter of Professor Brian Rudall (Vice-President of WOSC and Editor-in-chief of Kybernetes), Catherine Jane Mann, née Rudall, known as “Jane”, died on 3rd October 2010, after a brave struggle with cancer of the lymphatic system. She was a member of the teaching staff of the Computer Science Department of Bangor University as well as Book Reviews Editor of Kybernetes. She leaves behind a husband Bob as well as a young daughter Becky and son James. We send condolences to them as well as to Brian and his wife Mary.

Entry in 2006

It is necessary to begin with a very sad item of news. Our good friend Professor Z. Bubnicki died on 12th March of 2006. An obituary notice prepared by his colleagues can be found by clicking here: Prof. Bubnicky obituary and another prepared for a special memorial sesssion of the XVI Systems Science conference in Wrocław in September 2007 by clicking here: Eulogy from conference.

It was planned that Professor Bubnicki would act as local organizer for the next WOSC Congress in Wrocław in 2008, and we are still able to use that venue, thanks to the kindness of the new Director, Professor Jósefczyk.

The city of Wrocław, formerly known as Breslau, and before that by many other variations, has a long and tumultuous history. It is in fact argued to have been central in much of the history of Central Europe, in the book: Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse (Pimlico, London 2003). The book is of 585 pages and although clearly and wittily written it is far from easy reading because of its vast amount of historical detail, much of it referring to dynasties and conflicts of which I (A.M.A.) have to admit to knowing little or nothing – often literally nothing.

The paperback edition of the book, with list price £12.50, is currently available from Amazon at £8.25, and the hard cover edition, with list price £20, at £13.20.

Wrocław is served by direct flights from Heathrow, though for a greater choice of flight times it may be convenient to make a change in Warsaw. There is also a direct service by RyanAir from Stanstead.

November 2006

The next issue of Kybernetes will announce a new appointment to the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal. Dr. Allenna Leonard has accepted the invitation to join the EAB at this important time in the journal's history when it is extending its scope to cover management science with particular reference to management cybernetics.

Dr. Leonard is a leading figure in cybernetics and systems communities. Her practice has been focussed on the work of Stafford Beer, patron in memoriam of the journal, and his Viable System Model and Team Syntegrity process. She served as President of the American Society for Cybernetics from 2002 to 2005.

A full profile of Dr. Leonard and her contributions to systems and cybernetics will be published in coming issues.

Also in the next issue of Kybernetes will be a report by Prof. Robert Vallée on the 6th Systems Science European Congress, held in Paris from 19 to 22 September 2005; another by Alex Andrew on the UK Cybernetics Society 31st Annual Conference held in London in September 2006; another by Robert Vallée on the 18th European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research and yet another, also by him, on the 25 Year Celebration of the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR), these last two having been in Vienna during April 2006.

January 2007

A notice is attached about a meeting in Stary Oskol, Russia, during 12 – 14 March, Complex Control Systems and Quality Management - CCSQM’2007

Also attached is a letter sent to ASC members about three meetings:

1. Urbana Illinois Meeting of the ASC -- March 29-April 1, 2007.

2. ASC participation with the ISSS meeting in Tokyo, Japan, August 5 - 7, 2007.

3. ASC participation in the Heinz-von Foerster Conference in Vienna, November 2007.

March 2007

Professor Martin Smith, of the Open University, President of the UK Cybernetics Society, has accepted an inivitation to become a Directorof WOSC. We look forward to his input and collaboration.

June 2007

An international online journal has been inaugurated as WCFSGS, or World Chinese Forum on Science of General Systems. Information can be found at: WCFSGS from which Number 5, Vol. 3, 2007 can be reached by following a link, or by clicking on: Forum.

The issue contains papers in Chinese, several of them with English versions available. There is also reference to a printed issue. One of the papers that is available in English is: "Keynote and Editorial of WCFSGS on New Year's Day 2006", by the Editor-in-Chief, Leon (Xiangjun) Feng.

International Honorary Academic Advisors to the jounal are as follows:

Professor Jeffrey Yi-Lin Forrest, President of the International Insitute for General Systems Studies (IIGSS) and local organiser of the Twelfth WOSC Congress (joimtly with IIGSS) in Pittsburg in 2002.

Professor Robert Vallée, President of WOSC

ANATOL RAPOPORT

Anatol Rapoport died on January 20 2007, aged 95. A Commemoration was held on: May 20, in the University of Toronto.

Anatol Rapoport, Russian-born mathematician and biologist, is known for his research work in mathematical psychology, mathematical theories of social interaction, general systems theory, probabilistic theory of graphs and networks, game theory, and semantics. He has written numerous books and articles extending these areas into studies of psychological conflict in debates as large as world politics and disarmament.

Biographies of Rapoport can be found in the Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatol_Rapoport and on the Cybcom website: www.gwu.edu/~asc/people/Rapoport/rapoport.html from which the above excerpt was taken, as well as on the ISSS site: www.isss.org/lumrapo.htm. The following excerpt is from the ISSS source:

Author of approximately 500 publications, Rapoport has spearheaded many scientific innovations, including the application of mathematical methods, first to Biology and later to the Social Sciences. Moreover, he is one of the rare thinkers who have contributed significantly to "marrying" philosophy and science. The originality and rigor of his thinking make his theoretical oeuvre extraordinarily resourceful, as well as unique in its ethical substance and esthetical appeal. Rapoport operates from a multidimensional background of experience and studies (see the following C.V.), embodying a deep humanistic commitment (cf. Rapoport 1994), and a profoundly systemic thinking.

The excerpt is in the present tense because written before his death. The reference is to his book: Strategy and Conscience and other publications also have a humanistic aspect, especially with regard to the Prisoner’s Dilemma model of conflict. The web entry gives a very full CV, of which a surprising feature is that he initially studied music before turning to mathematics. He gave a memorable keynote address with the title: “Cybernetics as a link between holistic and analytic theories of cognition” to the sixth European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research (EMCSR) in Vienna in 1982 (unfortunately only shown by title in the Proceedings). The world has lost a very fine scholar and person.

NINETEENTH EUROPEAN MEETING ON CYBERNETICS AND SYSTEMS RESEARCH (EMCSR 2008)

This will be held during March 25 - 28, 2008 in the UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA

The meeting is organized by the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies in cooperation with the Institute of Medical Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence, Center for Brain Research, Medical University of Vienna and the International Federation for Systems Research

The CfP (and further information as it becomes available) can be found at: www.osgk.ac.at/emcsr/.

The deadline for submission is November 4, 2007

Rebecca Hibit has sent the following prompt to members of the American Society for Cybernetics:

"Symposium C is chaired by Ranulph Glanville and takes as its focus second order cybernetics. Because the Gordon Pask Archive will just have been opened at the University of Vienna, it is intended to provide a special stage for contributions that build on the work of Pask's (who was closely associated with the EMCSR conferences), providing an opportunity to build a contribution to the evaluation and celebration of Pask's work. This will not exclude other contributions within the general topic area."

Ranulph Glanville is now Vice-President of the ASC, and as briefly reported in an article in Kybernetes vol. 36, no. 5/6, 2007, pp. 680-682, has plans for its invigoration. Information on the society can be found at www.asc-cybernetics.org.

A Note on Sending Conference Fees Abroad from UK

For those of us who want to send modest amounts of money abroad from time to time, for conference fees or journal subscriptions, the charges made by British banks are a bugbear. According to my recent experince it is important to be sure of the exact description of the transfer facility to be used. I found from their website that the Royal Bank of Scotland would make a transfer under their Royworld scheme with a commission of £10. I found though, that I was charged a commission of £20. The form I was given to complete had spaces to be ticked for "express" and "economy" and I chose the latter. When I later complained about the £20 commission I learned that I should have asked for a different form and opted for the "budget" version for which the commission would have been £10.

For the WOSC Congress next year I will try to arrange to minimise the charge by collecting payments in sterling and transferring a lump sum to Wrocław. It is a litle early to think about it in detasil now since the deadline for payment is May 31st of next year but I will keep it in mind.

AUGUST 2007

GORDON PASK. SECOND ORDER CYBERNETICS, EMCSR (from Ranulph Glanville)

The great Enclish cybernetician Gordon Pask's archive now has a home in Vienna. It will be formally announced at the Heinz von Foerster conference in Vienna in November (for information contact hafner@wisdom.at).

I am running a symposium at the EMCSR conference in Vienna in the week after Easter. This is a major cybernetics and systems conference. My symposium is a successor to Pask's symposium that he ran until his death. I have therefore decided this year to have a symposium within a symposium, featruing Paks. So I am soliciting papers on two topics: Cybernetics of Cybernetics, Interaction and Conversation; and Pask.

I invite you to consider submitting a paper for this conference (abstract due in by 4 November). This is a chance to really build a critical interest in Pask. I anticipate that there will be an accompanying art exhibition, and there willbe a special guided tour to the Pask archive for participants, during the conference. I also invite papers on the symposium's main theme.

Best Wishes, Ranulph

Early 2009

Prof. Robert Vallée has compiled an excellent personal website at:Website of R. Vallée